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Powerful Natural Solutions for Seasonal Allergies
by Jennifer Palmer, ND, Director of Education for NEEDS

The first hints of spring generate anticipation for warmer, sunnier days for most people, but for millions of Americans, it conjures images of the dreaded allergy season. During this time when the air is thick with microscopic plant particles, allergy sufferers experience immune imbalances from mast cells that cause excess histamine, triggering symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, and sniffling. Over-the-counter antihistamine drugs are helpful to decrease the symptoms, but they cause side effects, such as drowsiness, and some cannot be taken long term. Herbs and enzymes can offer relief without side effects, and they tend to be most effective when started a few weeks before the allergy season hits.

The botanical approach to stabilizing mast cells and improving mucous membrane integrity largely involves using herbs such as turmeric (Curcuma longa), nettle leaf (Urtica diocia), eyebright (Euphrasia off.), bayberry (Myrica off.), yarrow (Achillea millifolium), and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Eyebright, in particular, contains anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, making it a powerful treatment for congestive illnesses.

Recommendations suggest starting use at least one month prior to the onset of your seasonal allergy to help prevent an allergic response. It can also be used very effectively at the onset of symptoms for immediate relief.

Quercetin is a strong antioxidant, with anti-allergy, anti-viral, and gastro-protective activity.

Quercetin is especially effective for allergy symptom overload because it stabilizes mast cell membranes and prevents the release of histamine and other inflammatory agents. Due to its antioxidant effect, quercetin can inhibit inflammatory processes mediated by leukotrienes, hyaluronidase (collagen-destroying enzymes), and lysosomal enzymes (promoters of localized inflammation).

Quercetin is often hard to assimilate and it has been reported that absorption of flavonoids, such as rutin and quercetin, can be less than 1% of an orally administered dose. To address this problem, Cardiovascular Research enhanced its Quercetin-C supplement with liposomes—highly complex, microscopic liquid spheres. When quercetin is carried within a liposome, it becomes more lipophilic (fat absorbable), enhancing the nutrient bioavailability dramatically.

Quercetin's work in strengthening the cell membrane of the mast cells, however, takes time. One may need to take it for 3 to 6 weeks to notice an antihistamine effect, and it's more effective if taken preventively before the allergy season begins and continued throughout.

Plant-based enzymes can help reduce the frequency and intensity of allergic reactions. Taken between meals, the protease (protein digesting) enzymes help digest proteins (from yeasts, molds, pollen, animal dander, etc.) before the immune system reacts to them, thus preventing the release of histamine. The amylase enzymes help neutralize histamine that has already been released, thereby minimizing the effects of reactions in progress. Studies have shown that allergy sufferers have lower amylase enzyme levels than normal.

Apply any of the above recommendations and rest assured that this spring will be far more enjoyable for you than past springs!

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